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Forced initiation increases

The head of a local group under the banner Voice of Marginalized (VOM) in Lofa County has condemned alleged ridiculous conscriptions of some Liberians into religious or traditional practices at the advantages of societal influential leaders within some parts of Liberia.

Madam Edith G. Sumowuo, VOM Executive Director told a press conference Tuesday, 29 May that the conscription of kids, both male and female into traditional practices has increased within the northern region of the country.

She attributes the increase in conscription of kids into traditional and religious practices to the lack of formal education or limited attention given by government.
She argues that the Liberian Constitution guarantees all citizens to freedom of religion and association, and that no one religion has dominance over the other.

But she says she aware and is seeing reports of the alleged forceful indoctrination of citizens into religious, traditional or societal activities being practiced by citizens mostly within the remote parts of the country.

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Madam Sumowuo who just returned from northern Liberia has told a group of reporters that she visited several smaller towns and villages within the area, and observed similar human rights violation in Lofa, Gbarpolu, Nimba and other counties, respectively.

She claims that it is not only the traditional people, but some religious leaders including both Muslims and Christians allegedly forcing their kids and relatives to abide or live in the confine of their religious beliefs. She says it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, describing it as unbecoming and barbaric practice.

She intones that these practices are leading to the outflow of too many young people running for their freedom elsewhere, like the case of one Sekoua Dukuly who she says is reported to have escaped death threats and torture at the hands of his Uncle (name withheld) in Lofa County.

She says the young man between ages 18 and 19, escaped since January 2016 from his hometown in Tusu for fear of conscription into traditional activities, coupled with a forceful indoctrination into Islam.

Madam Sumonwuo discloses that boy’s uncle wanted him to be a part of the young traditional ‘zoes’ within the area. She says her investigations also revealed that the same victim was forced to leave his home late Friday evening in January, 2016 as a result of report that his patrimonial guidance forced him to attend Islamic prayers to his dislike because he is a Christian.

Mrs. Sumowuo, quoting other sources, adds that Sekoua, as an innocent child, was left to the care of his uncle in Tusu, Lofa County after both parents (mother and father) died years back.

By Lewis S. Teh–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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